Opinion: California is testing road use tax that will hit low-income workers hard

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October 4, 2021

California has the highest gasoline prices in the country, and at 51.1 cents per gallon, our gasoline tax is also the highest.

Keep in mind that we have the worst poverty rate in the country, with many people living barely above the poverty line, and thousands of people having real problems making ends meet.

Worse yet, Senate Bill 339 was enacted by Governor Gain Newsom. It will test the implementation of a road user charge before possibly requiring motorists to pay a tax per kilometer traveled. We’re already paying more than double what other Americans pay for fuel and vehicle maintenance, and the SB 339 adds to the burden.

Remember that the new “RUC”, as it is called, will be in addition to the existing gasoline tax, and there is no indication that the gasoline tax will be reduced as it is rolled out. implementation of the fee.

The RUC would replace declining gasoline tax revenue as motorists switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles. But there is a real problem. Electricity owners have an average annual income of nearly $ 200,000 per year, 81% have a college education and 81% are homeowners.

For the most part, these are not people who make two hour commutes to work. Median, low-income commuters rarely own electricity, and they probably won’t anytime soon.

Thus, the SB 339 unfairly shifts the cost of road maintenance to low-income drivers and rural communities while providing wealthier electricity owners with what amounts to a free ride.

Gasoline taxes are constitutionally protected; funds cannot be diverted for purposes other than transportation. Such protections do not exist for RUC income, and history shows that funds without constitutional protection can easily be diverted to other uses.

Another issue – local jurisdictions, including San Diego County – are considering implementing their own RUC, so state travel tax would be on top of county travel tax, in addition to the gasoline tax.

Low-income California drivers shouldn’t bear the burden of maintaining our state’s freeways.

Republican Assembly Leader Marie Waldron d’Escondido represents the 75th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.


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